…in the Maple Leaf Lounge at the John G. Diefenbaker Airport in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Assdeep in chair, Molsoned, enGlobed, my hands Purelled, clean, my heart unfibrillating, I touch nothing. My hands are clean, I have washed myself of It, the dirty thing, that cannot be seen, prokaryotic microorganism, that invisible thing that makes me shit unwinding, violent rivers of shit, praying to God in Marriott bathrooms when I would rather be meeting with the Western reps in Milwaukee or Scottsdale or Denver or Calgary, when I would rather stand and wait in the buffet line at the Hilton President, Kansas City, contemplating Danish and omelette, when I would rather be waiting for Our Lord God Jesus Christ in the Maple Leaf Lounge at the John G. Diefenbaker Airport in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. My hands are clean. I touch nothing. Mostly, we are silent and we are celibate and obedient and we have eschewed material comfort and want for nothing. God watches over us: he is delicious and savoury; he is a slice of Kraft cheddar or Edam, he is a saltine and a Pringle and a package of trail mix. This beer is his blood. We’re surrounded by sacrament, assdeep in the wonder of his works. And when we rise above the clouds, we promise to not look down on him in his heaven, instead, to memorize the location of the nearest exits, and to keep our tables and trays upright and in the locked position for takeoff and landing. There are other martyrs in the Maple Leaf Lounge at the John G. Diefenbaker Airport in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The bumped and unAeroplanned, the old men and women whose baggage exceeds their carry-on allowance. We do not look at them. They are in God’s hands now. We look instead outside the window, past the iron birds, the metal angels, to the aspen parklands, Martensville, Prince Albert, North Battleford, past the teetotalled boundaries set by the Temperance Colonization Society, devoted to sober industry and land speculation, from Clark’s Crossing to Moose Woods; we look beyond to the graves of frozen Indians, Chief Rain- in-the-Face and Big Wampum, Running Bear and Tonto, naked graves for the frozen smiling heathens, Rod Naistus, Larry Wegner, Neil Stonechild, cold happy martyrs, tourists, frozen in time, reminding us that all things come to those who wait, especially if what they are waiting for is death. Inside the Maple Leaf Lounge at the John G. Diefenbaker Airport in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I check the departure screen, I reread my boarding pass. Heather will call my row number soon, and I will think of her husband Roy back in Winnipeg, who does or does not have lung cancer (the doctors are not yet sure). Time is running out. I want to be forgiven, but I am comfortable. I want to wash in Your grace, but the incoming passengers are already deplaning. I will cleanse my hands again, destroying microscopic connections, and wait for my turn to stow my carry-on luggage safely on the floor under the seat in front of me or in the nearest available overhead compartment. And when the rapture comes, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, to the Maple Leaf Lounge at the John G. Diefenbaker Airport in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, have mercy on me, a sinner, for I have listened to the pronouncements and have restricted gels and liquids, I have snapped my safety belt, I have ensured—hallelujah!— that my seat is in the full upright position, I have promised that, in the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, I will place the oxygen mask over my mouth and nose, and breathe normally, and that if I am travelling with a small child, I will secure my mask first, and then help the child secure hers. And so I wait as the pimpled security guard checks his iPhone, and wipes his hand on his shirt sleeve and tries to stifle a yawn as he wishes he was anywhere but here.